Lance Armstrong shed tears in part two of his interview with Oprah Winfrey, when asked how he explained to his son that he had been taking drugs throughout his cycling career.
Armstrong, who was for so long defiant over his drug cheating, said he finally cracked after he heard his son defending him.
Anti-doping authorities and disillusioned fans might have wanted a different explanation – perhaps while expressing deep remorse or regrets in part one of the interview.
However, there was tears in Friday night’s second part of Armstrong’s interview talk show queen Winfrey.
Armstrong didn’t break over the $US75 million ($A71.46 million) in lost sponsorship deals, or after being forced to walk away from the Livestrong cancer charity he founded and called his “sixth child.”
He didn’t crack after his lifetime ban from competition.
It was another bit of collateral damage that Armstrong said he wasn’t prepared to deal with.
“I saw my son defending me and saying, ‘That’s not true. What you’re saying about my dad is not true,”‘ Armstrong recalled.
“That’s when I knew I had to tell him.”
Armstrong appeared to be fighting tears at that point, referring to 13-year-old Luke, the oldest of his five children.
It came just past the midpoint of an hourlong broadcast, a day after the disgraced cycling champion admitted using performance-enhancing drugs when he won seven straight Tour de France titles.
Critics said he hadn’t been contrite enough in the first half of the interview, taped Monday, but Armstrong seemed to lose his composure when Winfrey zeroed in on the emotional drama involving his personal life.
“What did you say?” Winfrey asked.
“I said, ‘Listen, there’s been a lot of questions about your dad. My career. Whether I doped or did not dope. I’ve always denied that and I’ve always been ruthless and defiant about that. You guys have seen that. That’s probably why you trusted me on it.’ Which makes it even sicker,” Armstrong said.
“And uh, I told Luke, I said,” and here Armstrong paused for a long time to collect himself, “I said, ‘Don’t defend me anymore. Don’t.”‘
LIFETIME IS A ‘DEATH PENALTY’: ARMSTRONG
Also in part two, Armstrong said he wanted to take part in competitive sports again, even after being banned for doping and stripped of his honours.
Armstrong says he received the sporting equivalent of the “death penalty” for using performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it, but he hopes his lifetime ban will one day be overturned so that he can compete again.
Armstrong conceded he deserved to be punished for years of doping that helped him win a record seven Tour de France titles.
But Armstrong said the penalty he was given by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was much harsher than the sanctions dished out to other self-confessed cheats, who were given lesser sentences for testifying against him.
“I am not saying that’s unfair, I’m saying it is different,” he said. “I deserve to be punished but I am not sure I deserve the death penalty.”
The 41-year-old said he had no ambitions to return to professional cycling but wanted to be able to compete in sanctioned events like the Chicago marathon.
“With this penalty, this punishment, I made my bed,” he said. “Would I love to run the Chicago marathon when I am 50? I would love to do that but I can’t.”
Already banned for life and stripped of all his race wins, including his seven Tour de France wins, Armstrong said he lost about $75 million when his sponsors deserted him last year after the USADA released its damning report on him.
But the 41-year-old Texan said the lowest moment came when he had to quit the Livestrong cancer foundation he started.
“That was most humbling moment,” he said.
“(I was asked) to step down as chairman. A couple of weeks later the next call came – I was asked to step aside. That was the lowest.”
Armstrong denied allegations from critics who said he only agreed to speak to Winfrey to give himself a chance of competing again.
He denied he ever tried to pay off USADA.